Brrrrrrr. It’s getting chilly in Vegas so we figured it is time to brew a Cold IPA.
Not one to jump on bandwagons (but rather stomp on them until they combust into a pile of regret and malaise), we’ve been eyeing off a Cold IPA for a temperate minute. The clincher came when I was reading about the origins of the style and why it is more than just some marketing fluff.
The craft world has had a tetchy relationship with lager since it’s inception. Craft beer, in its truest sense, was a rebellion against the blerg macro lagers of old. And that Post Lager Stress Disorder (PLSD) plagues our thinking when it comes to modern beer.
Enter IPL. The new millennium and a new take on lager - just add an IPA amount of hops right? Wrong. Turns out this style has been largely abandoned due to the exacerbation of sulphur yeast products on top of sulphur based hop products. Combined with a bold IPA bitterness and that extra dryness from lager yeast - ooft. Or at least that’s my interpretation.
Next batter to the crease was a dry hopped lager. This one is processed more like a traditional lager, which is then dry hopped with modern American varieties. Again this framework exacerbated rather than balanced the beer. And while some tasty examples certainly exist, it hasn’t been a child of the revolution.
More recently, brewers are jumping on Cold IPA as the craft answer to lager. And look, I was definitely intrigued enough to give it a shot. Using corn to lighten the body, we added modern classic hops Citra LUPO, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe. Then, fermenting warmer than normal at 16-22oC, we used a classic, neutral, lager yeast strain. The concept is that ale yeast produce fruity esters, often confused with hop flavours. By utilising lager yeast, we don’t get those fruity esters and all those flavours will come from the hop. And by fermenting warmer, we expel those classic sulphur-based yeast characters. So, by using classic modern hops I was hoping to give a new experience in hop profile, by controlling fermentation flavours.
Cold IPA, is it the panacea for our PLSD? Unlikely, but it’s the most interesting thing to happen to lager yeast since old Louis and his looking glass.